TV review: Defending Jacob
Chris Hemsworth is not the only Avenger invading our small screens this month.
Fresh from his cocky, conniving, scene-stealing turn in last year's hit whodunit Knives Out, Chris Evans gets to stretch those acting muscles again for this eight-episode miniseries streaming on Apple TV+.
It is based on the best-selling 2012 novel of the same name.
The perfect upper-middle-class suburban life of a hotshot prosecutor (Chris Evans) and his kind wife (Michelle Dockery) is destabilised when their 14-year-old son Jacob (Jaeden Martell) is arrested for the murder of a classmate.
Created by Mark Bomback (the rebooted Planet Of The Apes films) and directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), this crime-and-courtroom murder mystery boasts a filmic quality, high production values, a moody atmosphere and enough twists and secrets to keep you guessing till the next episode's reveal.
But the real meat comes from the repercussions of Jacob's arrest felt by the central couple, like losing friends, careers, community respect and even their sense of identity as parents.
Leaning into an entirely different look than we have seen him embody, Evans comes across as morally questionable and moderately unlikeable, a desperate father who will do anything to protect his only child.
Dockery, out of her Downton Abbey costumes and posh English accent, gets to do more, as she wrestles with creeping doubts about Jacob's presumed innocence.
And then there's Martell (It, Knives Out), who usually doesn't betray any dark streak, going by his previous roles, but is now so ambiguous and unreadable that we are never quite sure if he's a sociopathic killer or not.
And truly, that is just the thing needed for any viewer to stay the course as the show continues to peel back the layers all the way to the bitter end.